Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Interleague interlude?

In preparation for this weekend's laptop-less trip to Cleveland for the Reds/Indians series at Progressive "It will always be Jacobs" Field, I was amazed at the ease by which I purchased tickets. Sections 151 and 153, within a stone's throw of home plate. Point-click, done.

Didn't use to be this easy. There was a time when Tribe/Redlegs was a tough docket, a virtually assured sellout.

Now, this was a month or so before the first-place Indians forgot they were supposed to be the last-place Indians. But enthusiasm for the home-and-home 'Battle of Ohio' series has largely fizzled.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland summed it up recently.

"It was a brilliant idea to start with," said Leyland of interleague play. "But it has run its course."

I tend to agree. Unless it's Cubs/Sox or Yanks/Mets, interleague play has lost its luster. Not to say it wasn't a good idea, if not great. But perhaps it's time to revisit.

As it stands the Reds have six games against Cleveland, just two fewer than against Philadelphia, a potential NLDS opponent.

In one stretch the Reds play 15 consecutive interleague games, including a six-game roadie to Baltimore and Tampa Bay. Not the best way to prepare for a key seven-game pre-All-Star break trip to NL Central rivals St. Louis and Milwaukee.

Slight overkill.

It seems the Reds and Indians both will enter this weekend's series in first place and they're anticipating raucous crowds throughout. Great American Ball Park will be jammed when the Bronx Bombers visit in June, probably not so much for the Blue Jays.

I'd trade interleague play for more games against the inter-division rival Cardinals, packaged with a prize fight between Marty Brennaman and Dave Duncan.

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